How one girl found the courage to advocate for herself and her peers in India
By Lipi Jobson, communications manager, India
Pari* has been through a lot in her 17 years. To start, she was born into India’s lowest class or caste. Then her father — who drank heavily — died and her mother’s wages as a daily labourer left the family destitute.
So, Pari dropped out of school to help. She took a job at a textile factory where she worked long hours, was reprimanded for taking long bathroom breaks and suffered with stomachaches and headaches after inhaling fumes caused by the facility’s cotton-processing operation.
She found hope at a local Child Protection Network meeting where the group was submitting a petition with her Panchayat (local governing body) to stop child labour. She eagerly backed it, noting she was a victim of child labour. Thankfully, support received through our local program staff gave her the courage to speak up.
It didn’t end there. The teen took her concerns to a community meeting, telling those gathered that many girls were working in dangerous conditions and some were sexually abused.
Pari called for an end to child labour again, further highlighting the importance of the petition originally submitted for consideration.
You can [overcome] any challenges if you [know] your rights. — Pari, 17
But there were more hurdles to overcome at home. So, she convinced her mother to meet with our local partner, SPEECH, for training about child rights.
Pari has already seen positive change in her village. Parents now understand the importance of child rights and ending child labour.
And, a tutor has helped Pari prepare for her final school exams. Her confidence has grown, and she has high hopes she’ll finish her secondary education and find a good job.
“You can [overcome] any challenges if you [know] your rights,” she says.
We hope Pari becomes the teacher she’s always dreamed she could be.
*The name of the girl in this story has been changed for her protection
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About Christian Children’s Fund of Canada:
Christian Children’s Fund of Canada works globally to support children and youth who dream of a better world. For nearly 60 years, we’ve brought together diverse people and partnerships, driven by a common belief: education extends beyond the walls of a classroom and is the most powerful tool children can use to change their world. We focus on breaking barriers preventing access to inclusive, quality education for all, especially girls.